The Hope and Hopelessness of Modern Romance

March 16, 2015

"Aquarian Rebirth" (artist: Robyn Chance)


We are deeply disoriented.

Our intimate relationships routinely fluctuate between ecstatic and infuriating. We mostly don’t want to live without an intimate partner, yet we can’t seem to learn how to really love one either.

We are stuck in a perpetual uncertainty between hope and hopelessness, like monkeys with our hands caught in a coconut trap. We yearn for the sweet fruit inside that we’ll never get to taste because the trapper is soon coming for our heads.

But why should it be any other way?

No one ever teaches us how to do this wild dance of intimacy. Most of us learn from watching our parents, which for most of us speaks volumes as to why we are so confused.

It’s common understanding, even if not quite so simple, that half of all marriages end in divorce. What about the half that stay together? What percentage of that half are genuinely fulfilled by the experience?

In my world, among friends and hundreds of clients in my coaching practice, very few people would say they want their parents’ relationship. Many people recognize that what their parents created is no model for a loving, thoughtful and truly fulfilling relationship.

What’s worse, as we look into the world around us, we see examples of men and women not knowing how to genuinely love and appreciate each other.

Throughout the world, in politics, education, industry, economics, ecology, athletics and more, the feminine contributions of nurturing, and community, and authentic vulnerability, are not much embraced.

In fact, they’re ridiculed.

Why Women Seem To Hate Themselves

A strong woman friend of mine today said, “I really don’t understand why so many women seem to hate themselves.

I know why.

Because the world teaches women to hate themselves. The world teaches women (and men) to hate feminine expression. That it has no productive value to society.

We worship masculine modes of human expression: competition, productivity, accomplishment, shows of strength, intellect, problem-solving, individualism.

We depreciate feminine modes of expression: collaboration, relatedness, holistic care and nurturing, emotional wisdom, compassion, creativity (that isn’t merely used for profit).

Thus we live in a world literally driving itself to emotional sickness and exhaustion.

What hope do we have when the world continues to deny half its very soul?

A New Hope

Actually, I believe we have tremendous hope.

I believe we stand on the cliff of tremendous change in human behavior dynamics.

Women’s issues are taking front stage all over the world. Yes, women are still being kidnapped, abused, murdered and used as property everywhere. But global awareness of this tragic imbalance is increasing like never before.

The gradual rise of Western Woman to prominence in our communities – still very much an evolution in process – is forcing the modern world to reconsider a woman’s role in human civilization.

Also … Romance.

Romance only began to appear at large in the human experience in the 12th Century. Prior to then, women were treated mostly as property and utility to serve masculine ambitions.

In the modern age, passionate romance is perhaps the only arena of human experience in which we are forced to surrender our rational thoughts and planned-out lives to the whimsical feminine mysteries of love.

[bctt tweet=”A good romance forces its partner to embrace the illogical feminine half of their souls they would otherwise deny.” via=”no”]

Like grabbing an electrical wire with wet hands, romance shocks the logical mind and thrusts us into the blissful ecstasy of union between our masculine and feminine souls.

No wonder we mostly suck at it.

Who ever gets good at holding onto electrical wires?

Perhaps we can at least learn how to be great electricians! (I promise to end this metaphor here)

A Poetic Vision To Live For

I grew up watching 4 parents – mom, step-dad, dad, step-mom – make messy relationships. Judging by my own disastrous intimate relationships throughout my 20’s and 30’s, I clearly didn’t learn anything that helpful from them.

But I’ve been learning. A lot.

My life’s work is now about teaching people the art of masculine-feminine dynamics – particularly in the dance of intimate relationship.

There is hope for humanity.

I believe romance is a critical part of our path forward. It’s the most extraordinary container the modern world knows in which the masculine and feminine aspects of our soul finally fuse together.

The only question is whether they come together in an opposing clash of forces to create an awful supernova explosion; or whether they flow together in exquisite harmony, exchanging their complementary forces to create a power source more brilliant than the sun.

I know that sounds poetic. I’m a romantic at heart.

I genuinely see that extraordinary relationships – and a thriving human civilization – are only possible once we’re willing to embrace both masculine and feminine ways of being in our own bodies and in the world around us.

That’s a poetic vision worth living for.

* Featured Art (at top): “Aquarian Rebirth” by the briliant Robyn Chance

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  • The “illogical feminine half”? Really? I reject your categorization of certain traits as inherently masculine or feminine. I have no idea what “whimsical feminine mysteries” are, but I certainly hope they’re not contagious.

    Love doesn’t require abandoning rationality. Every day, with every word and action, we choose the feelings we want to cultivate. Serving others grows our own feelings of love. The evanescent, volatile, and irrational feelings ascribed to love by the media are infatuation. They’re neither lasting nor deeply satisfying, particularly when contrasted with the wise, grounded, respectful, empathy-building, healing, and uplifting power of love. Infatuation sure sells itself well in our culture, though. It requires no discipline, no forethought, no follow-through, and no self improvement. Infatuation, not love, is the source of dangerous clashes that can turn into dysfunctional relationships. Love is the healthy and harmonious flow of energies (otherwise known as service to others). Love is never selfish, nor self-abasing.

    This “fusion” of masculine and feminine that you mention can be accomplished through every day acts of love for others – not just our romantic partners. Respect, compassion, and understanding are the byproducts of acting with love, and they–not the willingness to embracing logical fallacies– are what will connect and restore humanity.

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